A True Work of "HeART"
By Miranda Steward
For about a week, I’ve been wrestling with my thoughts, trying to find a way to put into words all that was Saturday, July 9th. I’ve come to the conclusion, in the time that has passed, that such a task is not feasible – it was an experience like no other, one that cannot fully or accurately be portrayed in words.
A crowd gathered that morning at Beach Market, eager to shed some love on this community—our community. Parents brought their kids. Grandparents brought their grandkids. Teenagers came in crews. And individuals came on their own just to be a part of something special. It was a crowd that would not typically assemble in any other circumstance, and the diversity that was present only added to the beauty of what was accomplished. So many elements of Charlotte were represented, tied together by the bond of our community that raised many of us, and new friends were made almost instantly.
The first three hours of the day were dedicated to #LoveCharlotte, where volunteers poured out love and service to places in the community that needed an extra hand. Teams of individuals went out to serve at the local elementary schools, Crosswalk Teen Center, New Beginning Pregnancy Center, Eaton Community Hospice, Beach Market, and even the downtown streets. Stories were then shared around the lunch tables while new friends bonded over their love for Charlotte. Enjoying a small feast from the Dutch Brothers Development Group, energy was restored for an afternoon project that would require all of our efforts to bring a vision to life.
On my hands and knees, I used a hand broom and dustpan to sweep the cracks in the street, preparing for the paint that was rapidly being stirred. On my own, what did I accomplish other than looking like a complete fool? Absolutely nothing. But it wasn’t about me, nor was it about any one pair of hands. It took the crew tracing with charcoal, another group caking the street with white paint, more sealing the dirt in the cracks, a few transferring the design with pencils, some washing brushes, and still others adding the color to make it what it is. It was a number of hands, a number of sore knees, achy backs, smiling faces, and beautiful hearts that came together to pull off something that our community can take pride in for some time to come.
Two crosswalks, both stretching from Beach Market to the opposite sides of the street, became more than dirt-covered, cracked roads; they became our canvases, a couple hundred square feet that evolved “from drab to fab” in a single afternoon. With designs created by Charlotte Middle School art teacher, Michaelle Converse, the volunteers banded together to create masterpieces in the middle of the streets.
Our perfectly imperfect painting, however, was not about the product – it was moreover about the process. Rather than hiring a professional street artist to tackle this project, the community came together and believed in itself—and the painting of our community’s teamwork will always be more special than the piano keys on the concrete. No dirt tire tracks or wet mud stains on the crosswalks can taint the pride we shared that day as a community. Hundreds of pictures were taken of the entire afternoon, and I can guess with great certainty that the majority of them contain ear-to-ear smiles from those involved. We shared paint trays, paint brushes, boxes to kneel on, and a common goal, but more than anything, we showed what our community can accomplish together.
Take a trip by Beach Market to check out the final product. As you explore the latest improvement to our community, know that you are looking at more than piano keys or musical silhouettes – you are soaking in a work of heART, created with love by the people who are lucky enough to call this community “home”.
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